Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

(626) 356-0078
191 North El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 US

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Archive for December, 2014

5 Clichés in Recovery That Still Ring True Today

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

A cliché is an expression that, although it may expresses great wisdom, starts to feel tired or cheapened by overuse.  Among people journeying into recovery, you may encounter many clichéd expressions, things it seems like everybody says. While you may feel that your own experience in recovery is such an intense feeling as to be totally unique,  the truth is you are not alone, and that millions of people have walked this road before you, and created sayings and expressions that were helpful to them.  

While at first glance their pithy expression of hard experiences may be frustrating, underneath these expressions you will encounter a great deal of wisdom.  Here are a few cliché-seeming expressions you are likely to hear in recovery, and the way their central message still rings true.  

1) The Recovery Shuffle – two steps forward, and one step back

Pursuing recovery is a lot hard work, and not always a linear process. Some days it may feel like you’re making a lot of exciting process, feeling better then ever. Then, maybe the next day, things may be a lot harder, and you may be tempted to get discouraged, give up, or feel like a failure.  

Doing the “two steps forward, one step back” shuffle means, take the long perspective in seeing and appreciating your growth.  Even though some days may be harder, try to see how you are making growth and progress in the long run.  Learning to appreciate the little day-by-day victories will encourage you and give you the stamina to keep going.   

2) K.I.S.S – Keep it simple, stupid

Amid all the stresses, temptations, and fears that come with fighting an addiction, positive self dialogue can be a vitally important lifeline that can keep you from relapse or giving into discouragement.  You need a few basic reminders of what is fundamentally true, your desire to get sober and free of how addiction has power over you.  At times when you feel the desire to drink or use cropping up, having too elaborate self-talk may fail to cut through the noise, but a few, practiced, basic reminders will help to calm you of your anxiety and remind you of your commitment.  

3) Fake it ‘till you make it

Honestly, some days you are not going to feel like being a sober person. The process of recovery is long and complex, and often requires a great deal of self-healing and personal transformation.  Fake it until you make it just means, don’t wait until you feel like you’ve gotten your act together to start living a sober life.  Simply work on your behavior, and try to transform it to as close to “recovered” as you can get. The healing, and the new ways of thinking will follow careful, healthy behavior.  

4) You’re only as sick as your secrets

We live in a world where most people tend to hide their true selves.  Addiction in particular creates and thrives under conditions of denial and self-delusion.  Recovery in turn means breaking these patterns of hiding our true selves from each other, learning how to be honest with both ourselves and those around us.  Admitting the truth is a vitally important step towards recovery, and so trying to hide something or feel too shameful to confront our thoughts and feelings directly will keep us imprisoned.  

5) Keep coming back; it works if you work it

No matter how hard it gets or feels in a particular moment, the overriding encouraging truth is that recovery is possible.  This expression, and others like it, remind you to keep trying, to avoid wanting to give up, and to know that things do get easier, and that you are capable of change.  The most important thing to remember about your recovery is to have hope that one day you will be sober, free, and healthy, and then live in that hope by doing whatever you need to do to beat your addiction.  

Bradley Cooper Talks Alcoholism, Depression and Recovery

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Bradley Cooper is a famous and esteemed actor and producer.  He first achieved prominence with his work on the television shows Alias and Jack and Bobby. Since then, he has become highly esteemed for his roles in The Hangover trilogy, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle.  He has received two Academy Award nominations, and was named the “Sexist Man Alive” by People magazine in 2011.

However, like many people who seem to outwardly enjoy a great deal of fame and success, his personal life has been marked by struggles.   He has abstained from alcohol since he was 29, out of fears that “If I continued [drinking], I was going to sabotage my whole life.”  In a January 2014 interview with GQ magazine, Bradley spoke about his life’s struggles with alcoholism and depression, and told a story of hope and recovery that can serve as a great encouragement to anyone seeking freedom from the pain of addiction.  

There was a Problem

Many so-called “high functioning” addicts can use their outward success as an excuse to sink further into denial, telling themselves their addiction isn’t really out of control or something they need help for, because they are continuing to be able to do their jobs.  Fortunately, Bradley Cooper possessed enough truthful self-awareness to not fall into that trap.  His GQ interviewer, Zach Baron asked about the impact of his alcoholism, expecting stories of not showing up on set or of “work getting [expletive] up.”  

His response was that things didn’t have to get to that point for him to realize there was a problem. “The best thing I can do is embrace who I am and then do that to the fullest extent, and then whatever happens, happens.”  His alcohol abuse was taking him away from that and putting him’” farther away from fulfilling any potential I would have.” Emma Stone, an actress he has worked with on several films, noticed this transformation herself, saying “He’s gotten more and more present in his life as he got older.”

Personal Transformation

Because alcohol was interfering with his passions and his work, he threw himself into the process of recovery, and grew in a life-saving level of self-awareness and commitment to his career.  His low point occurred after an Achilles injury and accompanying depression that left him homebound and considering quitting acting altogether.  When he saw that the effects of his addiction was leading him to have less and less screen time, that was enough to motivate him to seek change.

After he got his own life in order, his film and television career enjoyed more success then ever, and he discovered that he could live a free and full life being “actually myself…I don’t have to put on all this air to be somebody.”   This outlook is showing a lot of wisdom, that the basis of recovery starts with learning to love and care for yourself. He learned how to get over his anxieties of how he came across to other people, and that led him into a career-inhibiting haze of alcohol.  Once he realized that he could be accepted as himself, he found this freeing truth enough to change his life.

It all starts with a moment of clarity, in which an addict realizes the harm he or she is doing to the well being of his or her self and others, and so seeks out help.  Because Bradley Cooper achieved a moment of clarity, we reap the benefits of his talent and creativity of a man deeply aware of and in tune with himself. 

Dealing with Holiday Stress

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Holidays are a time when our normal lives stop, and we pay more attention to celebrating and enjoying life, being with family and friends and taking part in special religious observances.  The winter holidays in particular can be a wonderful time of joyful celebration, but also a time of great stress, of disrupted schedules, of feeling forced to engage with people with whom we unresolved tensions, and of having to live with the disappointments of reality not always lining up with ideals.  

People in recovery may have added challenges, as holiday celebrations may involve alcohol or drug use, and there may be some fear that people may not appreciate the temptations you’re facing.  Here are a few ways that you can deal with the tensions of the holidays, making sure to take care of yourself and have a holiday to be grateful for.

Don’t be afraid to take some “me” time when you need it

Isolating yourself totally and losing yourself in loneliness can be very unhealthy and bring on feelings of despair. However, being with people all the time can also be extremely stressful, so it is very important that you take some time to be by yourself, regroup, and relax.

Prayer, mediation, speaking with a supportive friend, or just taking time to do something enjoyable like watch a movie or read a book can all be really important ways to regroup and relax in the midst of a stressful situation.  The key is knowing yourself and your moods and needs, striving to live a mindful and balanced life.  If you have a need for either support from others, or time to yourself, find a way to ask for it.  

One thing that many people find helpful is regular exercise, physical activities to care for yourself and relieve stress.  Take some time out in a yoga studio, or find a place to walk, or people with whom you can play a favorite sport. It may prove to be very helpful to your well-being as a whole.  

Go into a situation prepared for the feelings it will bring up, and think of ways to cope

If you decide to be with family, there may be many potentially stressful situations that you can prepare for ahead of time.   Think about things you might get asked, and responses or ways to politely request a change of subject if you feel uncomfortable.  Have the phone number of a sponsor, therapist, or supportive friend you can call if things ever feel too tense to handle.

If you do decide to go to a party where there will be people will be consuming alcohol, you can request an alternative beverage, or bring one yourself.  Be aware of yourself, think creatively, and keep your recovery in the forefront of your mind. 

Share your stories instead of getting into an argument   

If you are perusing sobriety, but another family member is not, you may feel some tension, as he or she may view your pursuit of healing defensively, out of fear of being judged. Remember that you can not control anyone else’s behavior; you are only responsible for yourself.

Rather then try to cajole someone into recovery, it’s better to be understanding and gentle.  Speak out your own experience that will allow them to appreciate your story rather than argue with you.  Respect that they may not be ready for their own healing, but can learn to respect your choice to pursue sobriety.

Learning how to let go of resentments, and show respect to others will be the primary way people will show respect for you as well.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

Posted on: December 15th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Addiction claims the lives of a wide variety of people.  No career, socioeconomic level, ethnicity, or background is immune. In the throws of addiction, you may feel alone, but there are millions of people who have walked down the same hard path. A press release by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) quoted statistics that more than 110 Americans die of drug overdoses every day, and that 22.7 million people are in need of recovery treatment, but only 2.5 million are receiving it.  

Addiction is an out of control social crisis that needs innovative solutions from all areas of society, including government, to work on stemming the pandemic. Portman worked alongside Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), to create The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014, legislation that attacks the problem of addiction from multiple possible solutions.  Currently still in the Judiciary Committee, this bill will infuse between $40 million and $80 million to encourage a wide variety of programs to deal with problems of drug addiction, especially opioid painkiller abuse.  

Legislative Details

The proposed legislation is 74 pages, and rejects the notion that there is one simple panacea that can eliminate drug use entirely.  Thus, it calls for multiple programs and ways of dealing with the addiction crisis.  Different parts include (section in quotes are from a congressional press release summarizing the proposal):  

“Expanding prevention and educational efforts,” particularly aimed at more vulnerable populations, including teens, parents, and aging populations to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery. Many people do not recognize the danger of experimenting with prescription drugs, or of using them outside the prescription guidelines, so helping them realize the truth can be a big part in preventing dangerous behavior.  

Many addicts may be in denial about their condition, or may be so hopeless they do not know feel recovery is possible. It is important to make all these groups of people aware of the resources available for recovery.  

1. “Expand the availability of naloxone,” a medication that can counter the life threatening effects of an opioid or heroin overdose, saving someone’s life by allowing them to breathe normally.  Giving the injection to people in law enforcement agencies and first responders could save many lives of people, kept alive to then pursue recovery.

2.“Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.”  The method of simply locking people up “punishing” them for abusing drugs is not working.  Simply alienating them from society often does nothing but make them better addicts.

Many criminal justice systems across the country have enjoyed a great deal of success with innovative programs that treat the condition of drug abuse, rather then punish the person that can be expanded. Expanding the access of recovery for people in prisons can do a lot towards truly rehabilitating them. 

3.“Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.”  Opioid drug abuse is among the most rapidly increasing drug addiction problem, and it needs more emphasis. There is some exciting research being done to show treatment plans, including medications that can relieve cravings and physical symptoms, freeing someone up to pursue others aspects of recovery.

4.“Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.” This will do more to limit the level of access that addicts have in accessing inappropriate levels of a prescription drug, making addiction and overdoses less likely, and monitoring troubling behavior, encouraging people to seek treatment.  

5.“Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications.” Many teenagers start inappropriately using prescription drugs recreationally after getting them from home or finding them thrown away.  Having safe and secure places for people to get rid of painkillers they no longer need will go a long way towards making sure they don’t fall into the hands of someone who will use them non-medically.

What You Can Do

The bill was written in September 16, 2014, and as of this writing (December 5, 2014), it is still in committee, not yet being voted on.  As a citizen, your voice can be a powerful incentive in encouraging this legislation to be voted on and approved.  You can find the contact information for your states’ senators here, and call them to voice support for SB2839 – The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

Aligning Body, Mind and Spirit

Posted on: December 11th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

 Aligning Body, Mind and Spirit

 At first glance, addiction may seem like mostly a physical issue – something you’re putting in your body. However, as satisfying an addiction becomes an all-consuming obsession affecting your every thought, continued drug use can have very devastating impacts on your mind, your body, and on the whole person.  

Your health, mental functioning, relationships, and every aspect of your self become dysfunctional and out of alignment. This means that the process of recovery has to also be holistic, meaning that it goes after every aspect of your self, pursuing healing in all areas of body, mind, and spirit.  

Recovery programs rooted in the rich traditions of seeking to follow Jesus offer many invaluable resources to help someone in the throws of addiction heal and receive “life abundantly” (John 10:10).  

It’s Not Just About Staying Stopped

Although it may seem like the most urgent problem in your life while under its grip, addiction often develops as a coping mechanism and a way of masking deeper issues and hurts. Drug dependence both comes out of and builds up faulty “core values,” or the thoughts and beliefs we use to solve problems, cope with life, and bring relief.  

That is why full recovery is not only an issue of building up will power, but of healing the whole person and correcting these core-beliefs.  Getting rid of your addiction is going to mean abandoning these faulty thought patterns and beliefs.

Christian teaching about God’s love for you and the truth of who you are in Christ can fill the void left by abandoning these untruths, giving you something to truly stand on in living a successful, healthy, sober life.   

Caring for Your Body is good for the Soul

God has created your body to be as a vessel to contain your soul.  We are not floating, disembodied spirits unaffected by the physical world. Rather, our bodies are the central way we receive and respond to God’s work in the world. It is only through our bodies that we are able to live, pray, help others, and it is only through our bodies that we fall into patterns of addiction.  

The unhealthy, all-consuming roller-coaster lifestyle of craving, use, inhibition, and withdraw wrecks havoc on both your physical self and the state of your soul.  Replacing that pattern with a healthy pattern of regular sleep, healthy eating, doing things that lead to a happy and fulfilling life, active physical activity, and doing good things for others, are all ways to care for your body.  

This sets up patterns to learn how to love and care for yourself, and this mindset of self-love that is going to be essential as you change your lifestyle to be more in line with your body’s, mind’s, and spirit’s needs.  

Working Towards Balance

Many people in recovery have found prayer to be a vital part of their recovery program.  Christians in particular believe that personal transformation occurs when the Holy Spirit works in a soul surrendered to God.  Having an active spiritual life realigns your thinking to what really matters, replacing the lies addiction tells you with the truth of how deeply you are loved by God.

Active spirituality is just a part of a pie that should go into your recovery. Build up your physical health by sleeping, eating, and being active helps you gain the strength to pursue healing.  Build up your mental health by taking up new activities and challenges, occupying your mind and reminding yourself you are capable of being much more than an addict.  

Through the support of both professional counselors and peer support groups, get in touch with your emotional, social, and mental health, using supportive relationships to create a safe space for learning about yourself and surmounting challenges. Living this way, in balanced alignment and careful self-care in all these areas of human thriving is going to be the best way to truly come out of recovery stronger and more hopeful than ever. 

photo credit: Hugo Kerr via Unsplash